Missouri Truck Accidents Caused by Fatigued Drivers

Trucking Accidents Caused By Fatigued Drivers

 It is no surprise that when truck drivers are fatigued or drowsy, they are more likely to be involved in serious truck accidents that cause personal injury.  The reasons for driving while fatigued vary; some drivers are pressured by their company to deliver as fast as possible, some drivers worry about being late, and some drivers choose not to follow the DOT rules.  A Missouri lawyer who handles trucking accident cases often finds that the accidents could have been avoided if the driver had been more attentive.  If a driver follows the regulations relating to hours of service, that driver will hopefully have slept enough to avoid such inattentiveness. 

There are many studies that focus on the relationship to trucking accidents and fatigued truck drivers.  For example, The 2007 Large Truck Crash Causation Study (LTCCS) conducted by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that 13 percent of Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV) drivers were considered to have been fatigued at the time of their crash.  More recently, the Center for Disease Control recently estimated that 5,000 – 6,000 fatal crashes each year are caused by drowsy drivers.

Are There Rules to Prevent Driving While Fatigued?

While many companies have policies that govern their drivers’ operation of tractor trailers, federal and state governments have laws and regulations that are designed to prevent driving while fatigued. Your truck accident attorney should be knowledgeable of these regulations.  For example, 49 CFR Section 392.3 states that:

No driver shall operate a commercial motor vehicle, and a motor carrier shall not require or permit a driver to operate a commercial motor vehicle, while the driver's ability or alertness is so impaired, or so likely to become impaired, through fatigue, illness, or any other cause, as to make it unsafe for him/her to begin or continue to operate the commercial motor vehicle. However, in a case of grave emergency where the hazard to occupants of the commercial motor vehicle or other users of the highway would be increased by compliance with this section, the driver may continue to operate the commercial motor vehicle to the nearest place at which that hazard is removed.

The reader of this regulation will note that the company responsible for the driver (the motor carrier) is also required to follow this regulation.  In addition to section 392.3, other regulations are designed to require drivers to operate in a manner so as not to drive while fatigued.  These regulations include the hours of service regulations found in section 395 and the controlled substance and alcohol rules found in section 382.  Recently many states have adopted the section 391.41(b)(5) and have determined that sleep apnea disqualifies drivers from operating commercial vehicles because the symptoms of sleep apnea can result in a fatigued driver.

In addition, to Part 392.3 and other regulations, the government has a new Safety Measurement System (SMS) which is designed to help assess fatigued driving for motor carriers.  If the violations place the carrier in a certain percentile, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration may investigate the motor carrier.  The types of violations used for the Safety Measurement System include driving while declared out of service (OOS), operating while fatigued, violations of the 11, 14, 60/70 hour rules or 34 restart, no driver record of duty status, record of duty status not current, driver failing to retain previous 7 days' logs, and many more.  Your truck accident attorney should be able to recognize these types of violations when he or she investigates your truck accident case.

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